Last month, we talked to Mariah Parker, front woman of Linqua Franqa and candidate for county commissioner of Georgia’s District 2, primarily situated in Athens, Georgia. The seat is currently vacant with a special election on Tuesday, May 22, after the Commissioner Harry Sims resigned to pursue a mayoral bid. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
POST-ELECTION UPDATE: Mariah Parker won her bid for county commissioner of District 2 against her opponent, Taylor Pass. Congrats, Mariah!
Mariah Parker’s path to politics has been circuitous to say the least. The 26-year-old graduate student first got her start in organizing through the music scene. While she was “enchanted” by the musical offerings in Athens and its clubs, she noticed that she was often the only person of color at most venues and there was a dearth of hip hop programming available. She wanted to bring hip hop out of the shadows of Athens and into more mainstream clubs, breaking down barriers that were often enforced by implicit biases and bring people together.
From there, Parker developed a reputation in and out of the music scene as a motivated young woman who could not only bring people together but keep them together. She was recruited to work on her first political campaign just last year, supporting candidate Tommy Valentine as he launched his bid for county commissioner for District 9. She cut her teeth learning how to run a campaign from its inception, gaining experience in fundraising, logistics and volunteer management. But she never intended to actually be the candidate. Her music is laden with references to mental illness, recreational drugs, abortion and more – and in previous election cycles, those would have been disqualifying.
But in the continuing wake of the most recent presidential election, Parker saw an opening and a chance at getting a progressive voice into the mix. For more than twenty years, Commissioner Harry Sims had run unopposed and it looked like that would happen again. So on the last day of filing, she took the leap and entered the race. Sims subsequently resigned to pursue another office, and Parker now faces off with Taylor Pass, a former local football star and coach.
Regardless of the results of next week’s election, Parker is and should be proud of the issues she has championed as part of her campaign and her willingness to “meet people where they are.” Her biggest strategic initiatives all revolve around systemic poverty and oppression, especially as they intersect with Athens’ troubling history with civil rights and with empowering the marginalized. We can’t wait to see what she does next.